#SGUnited #StayHomeStaySafe #SinglishQT Series (1) QT: Seriously Sugar Rush? 

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When our Prime Minister announced on the evening of April 21 that ‘Circuit Breaker’ (hereafter will be abbreviated as ‘CB’) had to be extended till June 1 with more safe distancing measures enforced to mitigate risks of infections within the community, especially some of the non-essential services have to be temporarily closed. One of the affected services was bubble tea, which caused an ‘uproar’ with tea-lovers scrambling down to get their sugar-fix before it ceased operation at 23:59! And the social media was abuzz with these stores busy on the ground with tons of orders for the night. Bubble-tea-lover-netizens expressed that they die-die must have this sugar-with-pearls-fix, otherwise can mati if do without for the next 30 days (or longer for crying out loud)! 

The posts sparked off two ‘acrid’ responses: (a) “Sure boh, simi logic? Seriously???”, (b) “Aiyoh, where is the safe distancing measure in place??”

Risks. When people have something they would die for, they would not mind taking the risks. The debate then is, is it worth risking your life for? Indeed not my ‘cup of tea’ to seek to understand the craze over this beverage.

But it inspired me to pen my thoughts behind this episode- The perpetrator is a great Tempter.

Many of us have sweet tooth and crave for sweets; some of us are merely bored and need to have some sweets; some of us are stressed and seek after sweets to destress; some of us turn to sweets as comfort food; some of us simply cannot resist the temptation to binge; and may be some of us are just tempted to follow the trend.

Temptations. Of course, temptations come in many forms, not just the sugar or the pearls- Tempted to rebel; tempted to complain; tempted to doubt; tempted to entertain negative thoughts; tempted to fear… and the list is inexhaustible. 

We made of flesh are susceptible to temptations from time to time, and vulnerable to the devil’s schemes. But it must be emphasised that Satan cannot make us do anything! It is our own choice either to listen to him and succumb or turn away from him and resist. Satan can entice us to sin but he cannot force us to act upon it. It is our sole responsibility how we respond with either a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. And we can’t pin the blame on anyone if we choose to be subject to temptation.

But by the Grace of God, it is by His Word we can resist temptations- ‘He (Jesus) answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ” (Matthew 4:4)… Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ (Matthew 4:7) Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written,… (Matthew 4:10a).’

“It is written…” is a spiritual authority from the bible given to us as a weapon and as a defence shield. The bible is our first aid kit, survivor guide, life manual and ammunition pack, for life.

At such unprecedented season, the extended CB has affected all strata of society. So let’s face it squarely- life may beat us down, but we can live above it when we stand firm even when life’s headwinds gust our way. Instead of focusing all our attention on ourselves and the curveballs life throws our way, let us persevere by fixing our eyes on Jesus who is our Overcomer, and He has already provided the ‘sweet healthy pearls’ from the bible:

  1. Be aware of your weaknesses or hot buttons that Satan already know:

that no advantage may be gained over us by Satan: for we are not ignorant of his devices. – 2 Corinthians 2:11

  1. Be watchful and mindful of being ensnared anytime:

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8

  1. Yield yourself to God decisively and the devil will flee:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – James 4:7

  1. Stop instantly to break the sin pattern or vicious cycle:

Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. (1 John 3:8a) And give no opportunity to the devil. (Ephesians 4:27)

  1. Avoid situation that will tempt you:

abstain from every form of evil… – 1 Thessalonians 5:22

  1. Remind yourself of your position in Christ and Who is living in you:

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). I can do all things through Him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).

  1. Remember that God will not allow any temptation that you can’t handle and He will help you:

No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing He will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

  1. Appropriate the power of prayer with “It is written…” or “God says…”

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. – Hebrews 4:12

The devil is already a defeated enemy when we are freed by Christ, and we who is “in Christ” live “in Christ” cannot be recaptured, unless we subject ourselves to practices of this fallen world where Satan is still very active. Remember, if you give an inch (2.54 cm), he (the devil) will take a mile (1.61 km)!

Extrapolation. Inferences. Deception.

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He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; – Isaiah 11:3B

As a visual person, I have the propensity to observe and read things around me with my eyes; and as a creative person, I have a knack for piecing together bits and pieces into a whole new creation. As a result, I have inherited a predisposition to making extrapolation almost all the time.

To extrapolate is to draw an interference or a presumption about something with existing information that is not explicit.

In other word, that means, I can tip the scale to being judgemental since my eyes judge and my ears decide. And that is dangerous because:

(1) I can be led into deception easily;

(2) I can make illogical inferences that are not true;

(3) I can become irrational;

(4) and the worst of the lot is, I, as a mere human, is sitting on the judgement seat that is only reserved for God.

Judging, in its simplest definition, is forming an opinion or conclusion about something or someone. In other word, whenever I draw an inference, I have formed a judgement. Of course, God does us a spirit of sound mind and self-control, but the flip side is, what if, my inference is wrong, based on false impression or insufficient information, my judgement will then be impaired or impartial.

It took me years to restrain in utilising this inherent trait, until I read a verse from Luke 6:37, that if I judge, I will be judged; if I condemn, I will be condemned too. And I will also be treated the same as I treat others. The standard I use in judging will be the standard by which I will be judged (Matthew 7:2).

Isn’t that scary enough to hold us in check? For only the Lord knows the heart of men, after all, who are we, standing on the same ground as imperfect beings elevate ourselves on higher ground on moral or biblical standards? Let us not deceive ourselves, for “the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:10)

Courtesy photo (P1030698) taken by Rachel Hong @ Bandung, Indonesia, August 2017.

Keeping Secrets

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When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Finally, I confessed all my sins to You and stopped trying to hide my guilt.  I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”  And You forgave me!  All my guilt is gone. – Psalm 32:3, 5 NLT

Sometimes I encounter friends who would share something with me but end up hushing me to keep them a secret. And I often wondered, if it is meant to be a secret, it is better not to share with me in case I may forget to honour my promise to retain confidentiality. Not only is it a burden to keep promises (because we may fail any time), it is also a burden to keep secrets, for fear of being found out one day if confidentiality is breached by careless and loose tongue.

I am thankful that having served as a former cell group leader had trained me to abide by “professional-spiritual” ethnics in protecting my cell members’ trust in me. And the bonus of shepherding a group had limited my capacity to remember so many things shared with me. Every time, I would feel burdened for them having to keep “secrets”, and I had witnessed how they wasted away with moans and groans all months (or even years) long, to the extent they are numbed and crushed. Like Psalm 38:8 in the bible warns, “I am benumbed and badly crushed; I groan because of the agitation of my heart.”

Whether secrets or not, we all will pay a price for sins or disobedience- even if we can fool men, but we cannot deceive God who can see or know every secret things in our lives.

Ah, you who hide deep from the Lord your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?” – Isaiah 29:15

And the more we try to hide, the more darkness will lurk in every corner of our soul., for our soul is not meant to ingest sin. At the end of the day, there will always be something gnawing inside us relentlessly.

The murderer arises at dawn; He kills the poor and the needy, And at night he is as a thief.  (Job 24:14). In the dark, thieves break into houses, but by day they shut themselves in; they want nothing to do with the light. (Job 24:26). Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. (John 3:20)

It is needless to suffer the miseries of unconfessed sins. Ephesians 5:11 exhorts to have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. (Proverbs 28:13). If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9). Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16).

Remember, as the Chinese proverbs goes, “There is no paper that can contain a fire.”

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, – Acts 3:19

Junk Food Of The Soul: You Will Hunger For The Things You Feed On

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Watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master. – Genesis 4:7B

Although I am not a fast food lover as I am conscious of calories intake, I must say the SG50’s Nasi Lemak burger, by MacDonald, is yummlicious! No wonder there is a mad queue for this local gastronomic delight. The burger somehow has a “knack” in tantalising tastebud, it has been on my mind since my last bite… While vacillating if to satisfy my craving, I suddenly felt a zap in my spirit, “Hey, it’s JUNK FOOD!” I went “Whoops!”

Indeed, we will hunger for the things we feed on. Junk food for the physical body can be easier to control than the junk food for the soul which is harder to deal with. Both have its own power of addiction even in our sub-consciousness.

Some of us turn to food whenever we are stressed or depressed; while some of us turn to retail therapy; in so doing, we seemed to be programmed psychologically that “I need to eat / shop! I can’t help it.” Actually, the underlying root cause has to do with what we feed on- the more you feed on something, the more you will hunger for it.

Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life. – Proverbs 4:23 NCV

In other words,

Watch your thoughts, for they become actions;

Watch your actions, for they become habits;

Watch your habits, for they become addiction;

Watch your addiction, for they become obsession;

Watch your obsession, for they become stronghold.

So it all starts with what gets into your mind to plant a thought that serve as catalyst to identity, health, mental and financial issues, as well as sexual immorality. Such junk food can be in any form: covetousness, envy, bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, rejection, insecurity, immorality, anxieties and many more.

But the good news is, we can be re-programmed when we cut off the bad root, stay away from evils, be renewed in our mind and attitude, and master over our weaknesses.

Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes (Ephesians 4:22-23 NLT). Stay away from every kind of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22 NLT), give no opportunity to the devil (Ephesians 4:27).

P.S. It is a lot easier said than done, especially when it has become stronghold. That is why we need deep house-cleaning through deliverance when required.

Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like Satan and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger–someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house (Mark 3:27 NLT). Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” (Mark 1:25). Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick. The Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. (James 5:14-15) Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16)